Dec 01, 2016
Paying for College

Question: What Percentage of High School Graduates File the FAFSA To Access College Aid?


Answer: 44% for the class of 2014 (and 48% for students in the largest US cities).

From National College Access Network:

Does 48 percent sound low to you? It sure does to us, since we know that many of these cities have high proportions of low-income students who will qualify for grant aid for college and who need financial help the most. But when we crunched the national numbers for the class of 2014 (the most recent available), we found that the national FAFSA completion rate for high school graduates was just 44 percent.

Why is this important?

  • Students are leaving billions of dollars of federal, state, and institutional aid on the table each year because we don’t ensure that they fill out the FAFSA in a timely way. This situation leads to lower college enrollment, persistence, and completion, especially for low-income students.

Activity idea: 

  • Your students can track the FAFSA Completion rate at your high school. This data is available at this website
    • For example, I found that Eastside Prep (where we team teach a personal finance course) has had 55 FAFSAs filed for the 2016-2017 cycle which represents 100% of the Class of 2017


Check out the NGPF Lesson: FAFSA: The Gateway to Financial Aid

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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